All dogs bark, but in some cases barking dogs may become a real neighbourhood nuisance, greatly reducing the quality of life for their neighbours and increasing neighbourhood tensions. It can be confronting to receive a barking complaint, but it’s important you consider that your dog may be causing a nuisance, even if you are unaware.
What is an animal noise nuisance?
The Ipswich City Council Local Laws describe a noise nuisance as the following:
Animal noise is a nuisance if it—
- is made by a domestic animal; and
- occurs more than once; and
- in the opinion of an authorised person, unreasonably disrupts or inhibits an activity ordinarily carried out on a residential premises.
Example for paragraph (c) – The barking of a dog, which disrupts a person –
- holding a conversation; or
- watching television; or
- listening to a radio or recorded material; or
Tips for neighbours
- Don’t let the issue fester. Many owners are unaware their dog is creating a nuisance for others. Letting your neighbour know their dog is barking early gives them the best chance to address the problem.
- Never approach your neighbour in the heat of the moment. An angry confrontation will not solve the barking problem.
- Understand there is no ‘quick fix’ for nuisance barking, and the issue may take some time for your neighbour to resolve.
How can I make a complaint about barking dogs?
Discuss with your neighbour
- Sometimes the issue of barking dogs can be resolved by speaking to the dog owner first.
- It is common that the owner of the barking dog can be unaware of the barking or that the barking is a nuisance to neighbours.
- Once a person is made aware, most of the time they will take steps to fix the problem.
- The Queensland Government has information about barking dogs in the neighbourhood which provides advice on how to approach your neighbour to discuss a concern and tips on setting up mediation.
If you have reported the issue to your neighbour and have not heard or seen a difference in the dog’s behaviour, you can make a request to council to investigate your barking complaint by following the steps below:
Have the following information ready:
- How often the barking is occurring?
- When the barking is occurring?
- Where the barking is coming from?
- Your details (this complaint cannot be lodged anonymously).
Contact council by one of the methods below:
If the problem has not been resolved after 14 days, you must report back to council.
Please note: council keeps complete and comprehensive records in the event that legal action is taken. All parties, including the complainant and other witnesses, may be asked to attend court to provide evidence. Personal information is only given out when it is Council is required by law to do so.
How council investigates barking complaints
- In the first instance a letter will be sent to the dog owner to let them know a complaint has been received. Many owners will work to resolve the nuisance at this early stage.
- If the barking continues for more than 14 days after the initial notification and a further complaint is received then an investigation will take place.
- Council operates as the regulator, when investigating barking complaints. Sufficient evidence must be obtained to confirm the existence of a nuisance, before action can be taken against a dog owner.
- One way for council to collect evidence is via a Noise Nuisance Questionnaire which diarises times, dates, and duration of the barking. Council can consider any other evidence provided.
What can I do if my dog is barking?
- Get feedback from as many neighbours as possible. If you are worried about talking to your neighbours have a look at the tips provided by the Dispute Resolution Branch.
- Ask your neighbours to contact you if your dog is barking for long periods.
- Knowing the times your dog barks will also help you work out the likely cause.
Discuss your progress
- Give your neighbours feedback. Let them know about the methods you are using, and how you think they are progressing.
- Consider engaging an animal behaviourist or trainer.
- Discuss with your vet if you are struggling to modify the barking.
- Training takes commitment but is a long term solution and will also help you develop an understanding of your pet’s behaviour.
- Tips from the RSPCA on controlling barking.
Will my dog be taken away from me?
- Usually, no. Only in extreme circumstances Council may pursue action to remove your dog from your property.
- The removal of a dog is a last resort taken by Council if it was proven that the dog was a nuisance and no action had been taken to reduce the barking and impact.